How Racialized People can Cope with Racial Microaggression


The post below discusses methods for coping. For many racialized people, coping is a mechanism used to approach the trauma of everyday racism. The blog post is not to mitigate racism but to provide tools for self-care. 

By Ashma Hamid 

Racism is apparent in our society. Racialized people include marginalized groups such as: Black people, Asian people, Indian people, Indigenous people, and many more. It is due to this racism that racialized people face racial microaggressions in their daily lives. Racial microaggression is defined as: “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative racial slights and insults that potentially have harmful or unpleasant psychological impact on the target person or group” (Hernandez et al.,2010). 

Within the article: “Racial Microaggressions Experiences and Coping Strategies” by Holder et al., the authors examine coping strategies that racialized people, specifically Black women, can focus on when coping with daily and systematic racism: 

  1. Spirituality – focusing on spirituality can promote a sense of empowerment, relieves stress, staying grounded, promoting understanding and forgiveness, gaining strength and clarity, and functions as a support network.
  2. Armoring – focusing on pride in self and culture, promoting abilities and determination, personal excellence and validation, creating a work persona, meaning of career in life, acquisition of knowledge and financial security.
  3. Shifting – focusing on withholding personal information, challenging stereotypes according to your intersectionalities, and acknowledging how racism shapes yourself as a person.
  4. Support Network – talking to a close friend that can help validate your experience of the racial microaggression, create a list of resources or social media posts that help empower you when you need it. 
  5. Sponsorship & Mentorship – focusing on feeling empowered and to receive coaching and advice. 
  6. Self-care – focus on self care by meditating, engaging in physical exercise, reading/writing, psychotherapy, cleaning, cooking your favourite meals, etc.

These simple ideas can help cope with daily racism and sexism. 

For more in depth information on these coping strategies: 

Holder, A. M. B., Jackson, M. A., & Ponterotto, J. G. (2015). Racial microaggression experiences and coping strategies of Black women in corporate leadership. Qualitative Psychology, 2(2), 164–180.

For more information on what is racial microaggression: 

Hernández, P., Carranza, M., & Almeida, R. (2010). Mental Health Professionals’ Adaptive Responses to Racial Microaggressions: An Exploratory Study. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41(3), 202–209.

More about Ashma:

Ashma is a third-year placement student at CESAR studying Social Work at Ryerson University. She plans to pursue her MSW after graduation and focus on mainly mental health or child and youth. Her hobbies are to watch Netflix, practising self-care and spending time with her family.

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